Roger Federer is the first of the Big Three to win a Grand Slam and since that momentous occasion in 2003, only 10 major titles have been won by players other than the Big Three, i.e. other than Federer himself or Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Which were those 10 Grand Slams where neither of Federer, Nadal or Djokovic managed to walk away a winner? Here’s a list, correct up to March 2020.
Andy Roddick, 2003 US Open
Roddick won the only Grand Slam of his career when he beat Juan Carlos Ferrero in the final in straight sets. Federer, who had won the Wimbledon earlier that year, crashed out in the fourth round to David Nalbandian while Nadal was making his first Grand Slam appearance and made it to the second round.
Gaston Gaudio, 2004 French Open
Another one-time Grand Slam winner, Argentina’s Gaudio clinched the 2004 French Open title in a humdinger of a final, beating Guillermo Coria after being two sets to love down. He won 0–6, 3–6, 6–4, 6–1, 8–6. Federer entered the tournament as the number one for the first time and crashed out in round three, Nadal didn’t participate in the competition before he went on his winning spree at Roland-Garros.
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Marat Safin, 2005 Australian Open
By this time, Federer had moved to four Grand Slam victories including three in 2004 (all except the French Open). No surprises then he went into the tournament as the top seed and heavy favourite to win the title and made the semifinal without dropping a set. En route he also crushed Andre Agassi who was playing in his last Australian Open. Also, Novak Djokovic made his maiden Grand Slam appearance, losing to Safin in his opener in straight sets.
Safin went on to stun Federer in the semifinal, winning the final set 9-7, and later defeated local favourite Lleyton Hewitt in the final to lift his second and last Grand Slam title.
Juan Martin del Potro, 2009 US Open
Notice the gap between the previous time a non-Big Three member won a major and this one? Nearly five years! It took Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro five sets in the final to dismantle the five-time US Open winner and clinch the title. Del Potro had earlier crushed Nadal in straight sets in the semifinal while Federer reached the final by beating Djokovic 7-6, 7-5, 7-5.
It turned out to be del Potro’s only Grand Slam win.
Incidentally, this was also the year when Nadal lost to Robin Soderling in the French Open.
Andy Murray, 2012 US Open
Breaking the Big Three’s monopoly, it was Andy Murray who clinched his first ever Grand at the 2012 US Open. He needed a five-setter final against Novak Djokovic where he almost blew away a two sets to love lead before winning the final set 6-2 to lift the trophy. In doing so, Murray became the first Brit in 76 years to win a Grand Slam title, emulating the great Fred Perry.
With Murray beating Tomas Berdych and Djokovic getting past David Ferrer in the last-four, it was also the first time since the 2004 French Open neither Federer, nor Nadal made the semifinal of a Grand Slam.
Andy Murray, 2013 Wimbledon
Murray made it his second Grand Slam title and for the second time defeated Djokovic in the final. And again, in doing so he emulated Perry’s record as the last Brit to have won at Wimbledon. Murray won 6-4, 7-5, 6-4. Earlier, Federer was bumped out of the tournament in the second round while Nadal was sent packing in the first by Steve Darcis.
It took Murray straight set wins to get to the quarterfinal where he needed a five-setter against Fernando Verdasco before Jerzy Janowicz pushed him to four in the semifinal.
Stan Wawrinka, 2014 Australian Open
Only two players have managed a Career Double Slam and had Nadal won this one, he would have joined that elite league. He reached the final too, beating one Swiss-man, Roger Federer on his way. Unfortunately for him, the other one in the draw, Stan Wawrinka took four easy sets to demolish him in the final and lift his own maiden Grand Slam title.
Earlier, Wawrinka had also gotten past Djokovic in the quarterfinal, needing 16 games in the final set to edge past him. If one extended the Big Three to the Big Four (by including Murray to this), Wawrinka was the first outside them to win a Grand Slam since the aforementioned 2009 US Open triumph.
Marin Cilic, 2014 US Open
Croatia’s Marin Cilic etched his name into the Grand Slam list in what was the most surprising major final line-up in a long time. He beat Kei Nishikori in straight sets to clinch the title having earlier dished out a similar treatment to Federer in the semifinal. Rather impressively, Nishikori also dumped Djokovic in the semifinal making this the first final since the 2005 Australian Open where neither of the Big Four featured (and this continues to be the record till date).
This was also the first year since 2004 where Grand Slams saw two non-Big Three winners.
Stan Wawrinka, 2015 French Open
Since Gaudio’s French Open win in 2004, this was the first time neither Nadal, nor Federer won the title. It was Wawrinka who overcame a set deficit to defeat Djokovic and lift the trophy, his second Grand Slam win. Wawrinka had also earlier sent out Federer while Djokovic shocked the tennis world by defeating Nadal in the quarterfinals. Nadal’s only previous defeat at the French Open had come against Soderling.
Andy Murray, 2016 Wimbledon
This was Murray’s third Grand Slam title and second at Wimbledon as he brushed surprise finalist Milos Raonic aside in straight sets. Raonic had earlier stunned Federer in a five-set semifinal, while Sam Querrey got the Djokovic scalp in the third round of the tournament.
It was the first Wimbledon final in 14 years with neither of the Big Three taking part as a result.
Stan Wawrinka, 2016 US Open
The last time a non-Big Three player won a Grand Slam as of March 2020. Wawrinka made it his third Grand Slam as he came back from a set down in the final against Djokovic to win in four. Interestingly Wawrinka was also a match-point down against Dan Evans in the third round but came back to win that match in five.
Federer had opted out of this competition as he nursed his injuries, while Nadal lost in the fourth round to Lucas Pouille in five sets.